My brother made his family cooking début with a delicious pea & mint soup which he garnished with fried pancetta and homemade parmesan crisps (no pancetta for me). This was his first time cooking for any of us and I’m not just being kind when I say it was the best pea soup I’ve ever had. So fresh and vibrant. Well done J!
My sister was in charge of the main course which was a delicious Moroccan inspired stew with dried apricots and squash accompanied by a dome of two different sorts of rice. I was too busy eating to remember to take a photo – sorry C it was just too tasty!
I was put in charge of dessert and decided to do a gluten free trio of mini profiteroles, each with their own differently flavoured filling. I spent far too long worrying over what flavours to make, my family all has their own individual tastes and I wanted something to please everyone. Eventually I settled on roasted hazelnut, blackberry and coconut. These flavours all worked well on their own and when eaten together. I also liked how they all were a different colour, giving a hint as to their flavour.
For the hazelnut filling I roasted some whole hazelnuts and then skinned and ground them. This produced such a fabulous intense hazelnut flavour and aroma that I would strongly urge you to do this yourself, rather than buy pre-ground hazelnuts. It’s the food equivalent of freshly ground coffee over instant, both work, but one is far superior. The hazelnut one was by far my favourite of the trio. The creamy nutty filling went so well with the dark chocolate glaze on top, a sort of grown up Nutella flavour.
The blackberry filling was made with pureed and sieved blackberry coulis that we had made in the summer from foraging the hedgerows, and frozen. Blackberries have such a strong dark purple colour and deep fruity flavour that it made for a fresh and fruity tasting cream. This too worked well with the rich dark chocolate topping. I also added some Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) to the filling, which gave it a lovely subtle fruity kick, although unfortunately it did make the filling a little runny.
The coconut filling was made with a very nifty ingredient called coconut milk powder. You can find this in some large supermarkets and Asian stores. It’s essentially dried coconut cream that you are meant to rehydrate and use in curries, but I’ve found stirring the powder directly into cream or adding it to baked goods gives a great intense coconut flavour without the need to add any extra liquid. The coconut filling tasted extra rich and creamy with a lingering coconutty taste. This was a lovely contrast against the other flavours and the dark chocolate glaze.
As I had some blackberry coulis left over I used it to swipe the serving plates with an arty brushstroke – I keep seeing them do this on Masterchef, and it did look pretty.
The little profiterole bites were a lovely end to the celebratory meal. My Dad loved how we had all worked together to produce the meal, especially as my brother got involved, a family first! It was so nice to sit down together as a family and all enjoy the same food. Happy Birthday Dad.
Trio of Hazelnut, Blackberry & Coconut Profiteroles
50g rice flour
10g tapioca starch
¼ tsp xanthan gum
Cream Filling Base
150ml double cream
Roasted Hazelnut Filling
1/3 of cream filling above
50g whole skin on hazelnuts
1 heaped tsp icing sugar
2 tsp milk to thin, if needed
1/3 of cream filling above
2 tbsp blackberry coulis
1 heaped tsp icing sugar
½ tbsp Crème de Cassis
1/3 of cream filling above
2 tbsp coconut milk/cream powder
3 tsp heaped icing sugar
100g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
Combine the 3 flours and xanthan gum together in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Place the water and butter into a medium sized pan and heat until the butter is melted. Bring the mixture to a simmer then remove from the heat and quickly add your flour mix in one go. Immediately start to beat the flour into the butter mixture, you need to work quickly and stir vigorously. Continue to beat it until the mix comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick dough. Keep beating until all lumps of flour are mixed in.
Then tip the dough out onto a plate and smooth out into an even layer. This helps cool it down quickly. (At this stage the dough is known as a ‘Panade’ a paste mixture of a soft dough).
Leave it to cool slightly for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C and line a tray with silicone paper.
Once the mix has cooled slightly, return it to the pan. Whisk the eggs together in a jug and pour this into the choux dough, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. The mix will go sloppy, greasy and slimy looking at each addition of egg – this is normal. Keep beating until it absorbs the egg and then add a little bit more. Continue this until you have a batter that reluctantly drops from the spatula when lifted. If it’s too thick and sticky to fall off without shaking, then you need to add a little more egg. You also don’t want it too sloppy and runny as you need to pipe it, so if you have particularly large eggs, you may not need all of it.
It’s a hard arm workout, but keep beating until you have a smooth sticky batter.
Scoop the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large plain tube nozzle.
Pipe rounds of batter onto the baking tray, leaving an inch between each one. You want them to be about the width of a 2 pence piece (1.5cm).
Dip your finger in water and dab the tops of the piped choux to flatten out any peaks formed from the piping bag.
Sprinkle a few drops of water all over the baking tray, as this will create steam in the oven which will help them rise.
Bake in the oven at 220C for 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven to 150C and bake for a further 15 minutes until they are puffed, golden brown and lightly crisp to the touch.
Remove the choux buns from the oven, remove them from the baking tray and make a little hole in the base of each one to let the steam out. Cool them upside down so the steam can escape up out of the hole (or else they go soggy)
Make the cream by beating the ricotta until smooth. Lightly beat the double cream in a clean bowl until just at soft peak stage. Stir this through the ricotta and divide into 3 bowls for the 3 fillings.
For the hazelnut filling, roast the hazelnuts at 200C for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and the skin are starting to flake away from the nuts. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 3 minutes before putting into a few sheets of kitchen roll and rubbing together so the skins flake off.
Place the hazelnuts into a small blender and blitz to cream a fine powder.
Stir half the hazelnut powder into the cream along with the sugar. Taste and add more hazelnuts if you want a stronger flavour. Thin down the cream mixture with a little milk if required.
For the blackberry filling, stir the sugar, fruit coulis and Crème de Cassis into the cream and mix together well. Chill in the fridge until required. You can use pureed blueberries or raspberries too if you prefer, or even some fruit compote.
For the coconut filling, stir the coconut milk/cream powder into the cream along with the sugar. Taste and add more sugar if needed. The sugar will help bring out the coconut flavour.
For the chocolate glaze, heat the chocolate, milk and golden syrup together in a small pan until the chocolate has melted. Heat gently until the mixture starts to simmer and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes until it thickens into a sauce, stir often to prevent it from burning on the base. Remove it from the heat and set aside to cool and thicken slightly.
To serve, either pipe or spoon the cream fillings into the choux buns. Then dip or spoon some of the chocolate glaze over the top of each profiterole.
Swipe your serving plates with some fruit coulis using a pastry brush. Arrange one of each profiterole flavour on the plate and serve.
Best eaten on day of baking. Assemble just before eating as they will go soft if left to stand for too long.
Eat and enjoy. Makes around 30 bite size profiteroles